Nguyen Van Phuoc, who lives in Da Lat in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, has been a nature photographer for 30 years. He uses the acronym MPK, which stands for Michael Phuoc Khung.
The artist displayed 30 works at his most recent exhibition, to mark his 30 years in the industry.
Though the photographer has held 32 solo exhibitions and numerous collaborative ones, he never had the intention of selling his works, as he sees them as his children.
His photos were selected to be used in courses at Colombia College in the US. He spoke about this development and his passion for exploring the beauty of nature.
You have never sent your photos to photography contests. Could you tell us why some of your photos were used as curriculum in Colombia College?
I have never sent my photos to contests because I think it is my duty to find the beauty in nature and introduce it to people.
I believe that beauty makes people feel more peaceful and love each other. It makes life better.
I don't know why my photos were selected as a subject of a curriculum. A doctor from Colombia College found out about my exhibition in HCM City. She researched my artwork and asked permission to use it in her curriculum, titled MPK – An Artist Paints By Light.
Could you talk about your first photo, Khat Vong (Aspiration), which was sold at your recent exhibition?
It is a long story. Initially, I chose to be a photographer to earn a living. It's easy to make money by taking photos. I bought my first camera in 1984 with money I saved from my job in portaging.
At that time, nobody wanted to teach me how to take photos. I had to study by myself. I was torn down by the technicians who developed my first photos. Their complaints helped me grow as an artist.
The photo Aspiration was taken in Tinh Yeu (Love) Valley. The sky was very nice that day. I raised my eye to the sky and asked my conscience while raising my camera to the sky. At that time, blue clouds passed by and I snapped the moment with a tiny camera.
A year later, I recognised that photography is not only a job for me to earn money, but that it's also the best way for me to express my ideas and emotions. Since then, I have chosen photography instead of drawing or writing.
You were criticised at the beginning of your career, but recently critics have called your photos phenomenal. What do you think about that?
Everything comes to me naturally. I love free crazily. Some people say to me that when they see my work they think it is art, not photos.
I have never edited my photos. My works look very natural because I record naturally. I like the natural characteristics of life.
What have you got out of your 30-year career?
The most valuable thing I get is love. I also recognise that the love of nature is very important to me. I respect the beauty of nature and capture it. And the most important thing is that I learn to live with more love in my heart.
Why do you focus on light in your photos? Have any other photographers influenced this tendency?
It's my feel of light. Light is one of three most important things I tell my students to watch for.
I like some photographers' work. When people engage in photography it means they are returning to nature. They become friendlier and find the beauty that comes from the plain, simple things in life. It's very precious. — VNS